As boating season approaches, safety courses recommended

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Getting the boat on the water is one of the first signs that summer is getting close for many across Michigan.

But a new bill in Lansing is putting a damper on some of the fun.

It's creating an uproar among boaters and fishermen as it proposes limiting the hours boats can be on public inland lakes.

But the fury may be over a misunderstanding.

"I don't support this, I don't think there's much merit to it," said Brian Shaltz.

When it comes to restricting boating hours in our state, avid boater Shaltz doesn't want any part of it.

But a new bipartisan bill introduced in the house could do just that.

"It would be awful to have to try to enforce it but to put sunset all boats off the lake, I just don't think it would fly," Shaltz said.

On March 13, Rep. Jason Sheppard and Rep. David LaGrand introduced House Bill 4362 and referred to the Committee on Government Operations.

The proposal would limit boating hours on public inland lakes between 8 a.m. and sunset.

>>Click here to view the full bill<<

The proposal is stirring up the waters, especially with Lake Fenton resident Joanne Evans.

"It's absolutely ridiculous," Evans said. "Everyone loves to get home from work and then be able to take a ride on the boat."

TV5 reached out to both of representatives who drafted the bill. They were not available for comment.

But after significant backlash last week, Rep. Sheppard took to Facebook to release a statement, saying it was a mistake:

I recently introduced legislation that has caused some concern among the boating and fishing communities. I would like to clarify my intent for House Bill 4362.

I have observed over the years that many inland lakes have set their own hours, through DNR rules, for activities such as high-speed boating and water skiing. These activities are prohibited in many lakes from the hours of 6:30pm until 10am the following day. Many of these rules were adopted in the mid-1960s. Clearly, these hours do not represent today’s families and their schedules.

I introduced HB 4362 to allow for more time to enjoy on Michigan’s inland lakes—unfortunately, the way the bill was written does the opposite. Please know that I am in the process of drafting alternative language to more clearly attain my goal of making our state’s waters more accessible to all.

But some are still skeptical about what the bill was trying to accomplish.

"What about the people that fish, they go out early in the morning," Shaltz said.

Neighbors say that not only fishing would be impacted but possibly the Fourth of July.

It's not clear how the bill will be redrafted. Currently according to Michigan law, boating is legal at night as long as the vessel is properly lit.

But some local ordinances can make adjustments to the times.

"One of the best things to do in Michigan is to watch sunset on the lake," Shaltz said.

Copyright 2019 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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